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South Africa, Sahara Group Explore Collaboration On Energy In Davos

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Davos, Switzerland, January 28, 2019: Enhancing the capacity, accessibility, reliability and safety of energy in its various forms were the key issues that dominated discussions between South Africa and Sahara Group, a leading international energy conglomerate in Davos, Switzerland.

The meeting had South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe, Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group, Kola Adesina and Director, Governance and Sustainability, Pearl Uzokwe in attendance.

Both parties decried the insufficient harnessing of the continent’s energy sector potential, adding that achieving a robust energy sector remained the most critical component of the levers Africa requires to leapfrog into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Kola Adesina, Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group
Kola Adesina, Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group

The South African Energy Minister said a collaborative approach involving all stakeholders on the continent should be adopted and driven by an empowered public private partnership. “The energy potential of Africa is immense and so much is being done to exploit this potential. However, what we need is properly defined machinery that would address the issue from a micro and macro level across the continent through cooperation. South Africa will be willing to partner with Sahara Group and other stakeholders to achieve this.”

Adesina said Sahara Group had since been leading the cooperation conversation and believes that South Africa has a lot to offer the continent as a frontline economy that has continued to demonstrate strategic leadership in the energy sector.

Sahara @ WEF
(L-R) Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group, Kola Adesina, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa and Director, Governance and Sustainability, Pearl Uzokwe during a meeting on energy sector collaboration in Davos, Switzerland.

He explained that with an estimated 130 million African households still dependent on charcoal, kerosene, lantern, candles, fossil fuels, and over half a billion Africans without access to electricity, the continent would need to declare a state of emergency on the energy sector. “Energy is a critical component of driving economic growth and prosperity. Africa needs to have a common energy sector agenda that addresses the peculiarities of the various markets across the entire energy value chain. Sahara Group would be delighted to partner with South Africa to drive this agenda, working alongside all stakeholders.”

Adesina added that huge investment in technology would be required to expand the energy mix to include more modern renewable energy sources.

Also speaking at the parley, Uzokwe said the continent must ensure that any energy agenda adopted must have strong governance and sustainability components for continuity and longevity. “Supportive legislation, environmental consideration, safety and the sustainable development goals must be well articulated in the agenda. Transparency and the creation of a level playing field are also factors to be considered as we would be looking at applicability across markets with different capacities.”

Industry experts say meeting current and future energy demand remains a major challenge in all African countries with the continent’s population expected to hit 2.3 billion people by 2050.

Source: Sahara Group

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Shelter Afrique target East African bourses, pension funds in USD500M housing bond

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Shelter Afrique’s Ag. Managing Director Kingsley Muwowo (Image: Supplied)

Buoyed by the successful local currency bond debut in Nigeria early this year, pan- African housing development financier Shelter Afrique is planning to tap into the East Africa capital markets and pension funds to finance affordable housing projects in the region.

Speaking in Nairobi, Shelter Afrique’s Ag. Managing Director Kingsley Muwowo disclosed that the Company was considering issuing local currency Medium Term Notes in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda.

“Already, we have opened negotiations with Kenya’s Capital Market Authority on the possibility of Shelter Afrique issuing another housing bond to support local housing projects and we plan to do the same with capital market authorities in Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. We want to approach it as an East Africa issue- meaning we’ll issue Kenya Shilling bond, Uganda and Tanzania shillings bonds, and Rwandese Franc bond, subject to availability of bankable projects in each of the markets,” Mr. Muwowo explained.

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Mr. Muwowo noted that such a strategy would make it easier for pension funds such as Kenya’s National Social Security Fund, Uganda National Social Security Fund, Rwanda Social Security Board, and Public Service Pensions Fund of Tanzania, to invest in housing projects in the region and earn decent returns.

“Our experience with the Nigerian bond debut is that pension funds present a viable option to tap funds for affordable housing projects. We equally believe they have the capacity to provide long term funding for such projects,” Mr. Muwowo said.

Shelter Afrique has had ten successful local currency bond issues in Kenya dating back to 2000s, which Mr. Muwowo says, have been successfully retired – demonstrating the Company’s strong investment rating in terms of local currency issues.

Beyond cities

Mr. Muwowo said the Company was keen on extending housing projects financing beyond major cities and into rural areas, adding that every part of the countries should be able to benefit from housing projects funding.

“At the moment, we have housing projects in cities like Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa – in the case of Kenya, or Lagos and Abuja in the case of Nigeria. Our aim is to roll out housing projects all over the countries in member States. In Kenya, for instance, we are already in talks with the National Housing Corporation to implement this,” Mr. Muwowo said.

The Company has several projects in Kenya including Everest Park Apartments, Richland Point Apartment, Karibu Homes, Pine City and Sigona Valley in Nairobi; Lake Breeze Apartments and Translakes Apartments in Kisumu; and Eden Beach Apartments and KMA Housing Apartments in Mombasa.

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Lipa Later Group Acquires Sky.Garden, One Of East Africa’s Leading E-Commerce Platforms

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Lipa Later Group, has acquired Sky.Garden in a move that re-energizes our commitment to bridging the gap between the merchant and a customer with more empowerment between both parties, merchant and customer, stellar service, stellar tech, and revamped strategies that promise to disrupt the industry.

This acquisition of Sky.Garden by Lipa Later marks an important milestone in the group’s goal to offer innovative solutions that meet the needs of businesses and consumers. This move will enable Lipa Later to expand our customer base and solidify our presence in the market.

The e-commerce industry has exploded in recent years, providing businesses with the opportunity to reach customers quickly, cheaply, and more often. This is the driving force behind the decision to invest in Sky.Garden.

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Speaking during the onboarding ceremony, Lipa Later CEO Eric Muli reiterated that the acquisition is timely as fintech continues to build an end-to-end avenue that connects merchants to customers and vice versa.

“Guided by our objective to empower African businesses and consumers to do more by enabling e-commerce, financial inclusion and shopping all on one centralized and fully integrated platform, our plan has always been to venture into e-commerce with unique value propositions for our consumers. Sky.Garden has done an incredible job and checks all those boxes. Lipa Later is no stranger to the e-commerce industry, having already established a strong presence in the online payment and finance sectors. This acquisition has greatly accelerated our plans of redefining the shopping experience for consumers,” said Lipa Later CEO Eric Muli.

Sky.Garden, which has raised north of $6,000,000 prior to this acquisition, will now be fully owned by Lipa Later Group and will continue to operate using its name.

With the acquisition of Sky.Garden, Lipa Later is now in a position to provide a comprehensive e-commerce solution to consumers, and with Sky.Garden’s established infrastructure and market presence, consumers will be able to purchase items from Sky Garden using any preferred payment method including Lipa Later’s buy now, pay later model which provides for a payment plan that is flexible and affordable through monthly instalments.

Last month, we saw no other option than to file for insolvency,” Martin Majlund, founder of Sky.Garden, reiterated. “Today, I’m happy to see that Sky Garden will live on with new owners and new management. We built a great product over time, and I believe Lipa Later has the potential to take Sky Garden to the next level. Through this acquisition, the vision of Sky Garden will continue to live on while retaining jobs and businesses on our platform.”

This acquisition is a key step forward in our goal of becoming a leader in the e-commerce space. The acquisition of Sky.Garden by Lipa Later presents a great opportunity for both companies to benefit from each other’s strengths and further the growth of the e-commerce industry. With the combination of our expertise in financial services and Sky.Garden’s innovative e-commerce platform, the potential for growth is tremendous, and the impact this could have on the industry could be immense. Expansion plans are in place to see Sky.Garden integrated across other Lipa Later countries of operation which include Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria.

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VENCO secures $670,000 pre-seed funding

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VENCO, a technology company that provides solutions to enhance living experiences in residential and commercial communities in Africa, has secured $670,000 in an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round to scale its all-in-one technology platform that manages collections, service charge administration, utilities vending, visitor access and other services associated with multi-unit property developments across Africa.

The pre-seed funding round was led by Zrosk Investment Management, with participation from other strategic investors including Voltron Capital, Decimal Point Ventures, Fast Forward Fund, Tayo Oviosu (CEO of Paga), Odun Eweniyi (COO of Piggyvest), Oo Nwoye, Desigan Chinniah, Dakar Network Angels and Viktoria Business Angel Network. Starting with Nigeria and Kenya, the new funding will support VENCO to build out its credit delivery infrastructure for rent and household spend, as well as its expansion into other cities and countries on the continent. 

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With growing urbanisation across Africa, multi-property developments have emerged as the preferred mode of delivering residential and commercial real estate. Of the 2.5 million households in Nigeria that earn more than $1,000 per month, 80 percent live in multi-property communities. 25 percent of their income is spent on rent and 50 percent is spent on other household needs, including consumables, utilities, internet data, cable TV and other services. This market for household spend represents a $22.5 billion opportunity in Nigeria, and $100 billion across Africa.

However, with the process of managing various aspects of life in these communal developments being largely manual and paper-based, there are many inefficiencies that negatively impact residents’ experience and profitability for property owners. For example, the default-rate on service charge collection for multi-property developments in Africa can be as high as 60 percent, which means that property managers are either out of pocket or forced to operate on insufficient funds. Even when payments are collected, the manual process means reconciliation is error-prone and theft is common.

Co-founded by Chude Osiegbu (CEO), Reagan Mbitiru (CTO) and Uzochukwu Alor (COO), VENCO automates collection and reconciliation of all dues and payments in communities resulting in improved receipts and better margins for property owners. For residents, self-service tools provided by VENCO make processes such as visitor control, issue and emergency management as well as utilities-vending more seamless. With residents able to build an economic profile based on their financial transactions on the VENCO platform, they can now access a range of embedded financial services, including insurance, credit facilitation for rent, service charges and household spend along with many other services.

VENCO has recorded over 200 percent growth over the last 9 months and is currently in 6 cities and more than 12,000 property units across Nigeria and Kenya. Since January 2022, it has processed more than $10 million in transaction value via its platform. The company is also partnering with ecommerce platforms to enable easier access to merchants within and around the community, energy companies to ensure reliable energy metering and collections, and other service providers to improve the overall experience in these communities.

According to Chude Osiegbu, CEO and co-founder of VENCO, “the manual nature of many processes associated with life in residential and commercial communities in Africa presents many issues that we believe technology can fix. Beyond this, we also want to leverage technology to deliver new services and experiences that will transform how people live in Africa’s growing cities and create better value for everyone across the board. Our goal is to deliver technology solutions that will enhance living experiences across the continent, and we are excited to have raised these funds to support that mission”

Samson Esemuede, Managing Director, and Chief Investment Officer at Zrosk Investment Management said The team at VENCO are building a platform that allows for the validation of the GDP of the African household. Not only does a platform like VENCO allow for significant improvement in the experience of African residents, facility managers and property owners, it could potentially unlock at scale the sort of financial services the African consumer really needs. We view VENCO as both a SAAS and a financial inclusion play with a potential for strong multiplicative impact across the continent. We are excited to support the VENCO team in achieving their vision”.

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